Open Letter: John Georges Can You Stop The Advocate From Hurting North Baton Rouge?

John Georges, 

You purchased The Advocate a few years back and have worked to expand its footprint across the state. As the owner of a media platform I can appreciate that. I must say, that I am disappointed in the manner in which your paper consistently reports on my community, North Baton Rouge. I would have written this open letter to your editors, but their bias is clear and I prefer not to address middle men/women when ultimately you are the authority. They have certainly seen social media post and comments from residents of Baton Rouge who read the paper and reside in North Baton Rouge. 

Consistently The Advocate does what it did today. A crime happened in Baton Rouge, it’s breaking news.  The headline reads Mulberry Street, but the first lines of the article put NORTH Baton Rouge in the bowl. This is a problem. A problem that happens far too often and must be called out. 

When you do this ONLY for negative events in north Baton Rouge you add more damage to a bad situation. Mulberry Street is actually also blocks away from the Downtown Development District. It’s also blocks away from the home of Governor John Bel Edwards. It’s also blocks always from ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge. Yet your paper never adds any of them to the conversation. Why? Because they wouldn’t continue to allow your organization to damage their brand by association like that. 

A double shooting happened in South Baton Rouge near College Drive on May 4, 2018. The Advocate reported on the homicide. Yet did not include that it happened a few blocks away from TJ Ribs, or Trader Joe’s. The Advocate didn’t report that this homicide happened near S. Acadian Thruway or Perkins Road. This is wrong and happens too often. 

In my opinion it proves several things. 

1. Your editors and journalist are lazy. It’s easy to blanket “North Baton Rouge” it takes  research and knowledge of place to actually know the areas you’re referring to. 

2. The bias  of the paper is clear. When we have crime in South Baton Rouge, your editors and writers are very specific about the location. The words “South Baton Rouge” do not come together in your paper when crime happens. If you only do it in North Baton Rouge ask yourself why? 

3. Your journalist aren’t connected to this community. The Advocate continues to hire journalist who don’t know this community and as a result too often go along with writing things in a way that hurts this community. We have enough to work on. We don’t need your writers and editors pouring salt on our wounds. 

Every time The Advocate blankets North Baton Rouge it hurts Development. The Baton Rouge Airport is in North Baton Rouge. Howell Place Development is in North Baton Rouge, which many are actively working to bring development to. These places aren’t close to the latest homicide, but they are in North Baton Rouge and you hurt our work toward progress every time you report in such a lazy, bias, and in my personal opinion trashy way. 

There are challenges in North Baton Rouge. We don’t need an entire region of this city blanketed. We need targeted reporting that allows us to be specific about the areas of crime and helps us shine a real light on that area. That allows us to look at the areas of high crime and address the issues that help foster crime in that area. It simply is NOT happening in every part of North Baton Rouge and should not be reported as if it is. 

Your organization has millions of dollars and at least a few dozen writers. My organization doesn’t compare in size, but with no resources and some research gave a brief breakdown of what was then The Bloodiest Blocks of Baton Rouge. I condemn the violence in our community. It has to stop. It hurts progress and destroys families. So does the manner your news paper reports on my community. On behalf of thousands of residents of north Baton Rouge who grew up reading your paper, stop doing this. Be specific when reporting crime and homicides. While we are working toward solving some of the problems that breed violent crime, it is counterproductive to have your paper contributing to our negatives by attaching every aspect of North Baton Rouge to what happens in specific areas of North Baton Rouge typically. 

I have a request and suggestion. First, I ask that you would talk to your editors and have them immediately stop this practice. Secondly I recommend that you and your editors meet with community leaders and advocates from North Baton Rouge to gain a better understanding of the community you write about. An understanding from the perspective of the people who live in North Baton Rouge, not from people who once lived in, or never lived in — just heard about North Baton Rouge. This may help give greater context to how this negatively impacts our community as a whole. 

In Truth, 

Gary Chambers 


The Rouge Collection